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Graduate Degree Programs in Accounting Overview

Majors Overview May 5, 2015

Get information about graduate degree programs in accounting and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and job and wage outlook.

Information on Accounting Graduate Degree Program

Students enrolled in graduate degree programs in accounting are taught subjects such as taxation, auditing, and finance. Numerous schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) offer master’s or doctoral degrees in accounting.

The primary focus of a master’s degree program is on financial research, corporate taxation, and advanced auditing aimed at preparing students for careers in risk assessment or assurance. Extensive research culminating in a special project may have to be performed by program participants.

Doctoral-degree programs are devised to expand students’ knowledge of business law, corporate finance, and government regulations in order to prepare them for positions of leadership in business, government, or academia.

Master’s Programs in Accounting

Students who pursue advanced accounting education can seek various jobs in private industry and government. Schools offer a variety of preparatory master’s degrees in accounting, such as the Master of Science (M.S.) in Accounting and Master of Accountancy (M.Acc.).

Most schools offering master’s degree programs in accounting expect the production of a lengthy research-based dissertation. Courses in master’s degrees in accounting include an array of topics in ethics, risk assessment, and assurance.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, such as business administration or finance. Apart from a transcript to prove completion of undergraduate education, scores from the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) must also be submitted by applicants.


Coursework in a graduate-level accounting degree program includes advanced classes in taxation and principles. Core coursework may commonly include topic areas such as:

•Financial research
•Individual and business taxation
•Corporate taxation
•Advanced auditing
•Accounting information systems

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth of 13% has been predicted for accountants and auditors (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $63,550 (BLS).

Doctoral Programs in Accounting

Students usually take over four years to complete an advanced doctorate in accounting, whereby they can gain a comprehensive grasp of financial management, econometrics, and government regulations. Doctoral candidates enrolled in many programs are required to teach basic undergraduate accounting and business courses. Students enrolled in doctoral degrees in accounting are allowed the freedom to explore topics of interest such as forensic accounting, game theory or mergers and acquisitions.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Professional or graduate degrees in business or law are also commonly held by applicants to this program. Incoming students have to attend admission interviews apart from submitting an essay and paying a processing fee.


While the program duration mainly involves the investigation of an area of professional, academic, or personal interest, core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Corporate finance
•Analyzing financial statements
•Tax research
•Accounting ethics
•Business law

Career Choices

Armed with a doctoral degree in accounting, students can seek advanced careers in financial management, accounting, and related fields; however, careers in university-level teaching roles are chosen by many of the students that graduate from the program. They may choose from popular career options such as the following:

•Financial planner
•Risk assessor
•Corporate executive

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